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Piaggio drones: go-ahead from Italian Treasury

Genova - As required by the Military Procurement Code, Italy’s Economy Ministry (MEF) has sent Parliament, for its consideration, a draft ministerial decree for the “approval of a multi-year programme for the acquisition of Medium Altitude Long Endurance remotely piloted aircrafts.”

Genova - As required by the Military Procurement Code, Italy’s Economy Ministry (MEF) has sent Parliament, for its consideration, a draft ministerial decree for the “approval of a multi-year programme for the acquisition of Medium Altitude Long Endurance remotely piloted aircrafts.” The document was delivered on February 13 to the Houses’s Defense and Budget commissions; sources confirmed that the proposal was also sent to the Senate. According to a report in Il Fatto, the document contains expenditure details for the P2HH drones that the Air Force is likely to purchase from Piaggio Aerospace.

The amount should total 766 million euro, a sum which would represent a shot in the arm for the Liguria-based firm, which is controlled by UAE-based Mubadala Fund, and which has been grappling with a tough reorganization. The draft proposal relates to a presidential decree issued May 29 concerning the allocation of the 47 billion euro investment and development fund provided for in Italy’s 2017 Budget.

The budget allocated to the Ministry of Defense for “high-tech industrial activities to support exports” is 5.3 billion over 15 years, which includes funding for the 10 +10 Piaggio drone programme (about 51 million a year, so that the unit cost of each drone, which consists of a ground unit and a flying unit, would be about 77 million). The programme has the support of the Air Force, and meets the requirements of the Armed Forces. The last contractual aspects that will make the draft decree executive should be defined soon. A final version of the decree that allocated the funding appeared in the Official Journal on September 27, while the MEF sent its draft decree on drones to the Houses on February 13th.

While the Chambers have been in recess since the end of 2017, in cases such as this the Commissions can be recalled anyway, as already occured for the Decree to provide funding for Italian military missions abroad, which was issued in mid-January.

It’s a fact, however, that at the end of a 30-day period from the notification of the draft-decree, unless the relevant commissions make themselves heard, the government will move ahead regardless, as set forth in the Military Procurement Code: “We acknowledge that this ministry,” commented Antonio Apa, secretary of Uilm Liguria union, “has worked for the common good of the nation, through its naval law, and the indirect intervention on Leonardo, as well as with this recent draft-decree.” There was no comment from the company on the matter. An impasse instead over in Savona, between Piaggio’s management and the unions after a meeting was held over the transfer of intellectual property for the civil aircraft P180, with a new company to be created, which should absorb 23 of its workers. According to Lorenzo Ferrero, of the CGIL Savona union, “it is essential to protect workers against what is happening here. The transfer of assets like the P180 and components of its non-military line is a sensitive matter, to which we remain opposed because it not being included in the industrial plan, nor in previous agreements.”

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